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List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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is the King of France visiting his good city of Blois? All these trumpets
are his, all those gilded housings are his, all those gentlemen wear
swords that are his.  His mother precedes him in a carriage magnificently
encrusted with silver and gold.  Happy mother!  His minister heaps up
millions, and conducts him to a rich bride.  Then all these people
rejoice; they love their king, they hail him with their acclamations, and
they cry, '_Vive le Roi!  Vive le Roi!_'"

"Well, well, my lord," said Parry, more uneasy at the turn the
conversation had taken than at the other.

"You know," resumed the unknown, "that _my_ mother and _my_ sister,
whilst all this is going on in honor of the King of France, have neither
money nor bread; you know that I myself shall be poor and degraded within
a fortnight, when all Europe will become acquainted with what you have
told me.  Parry, are there not examples in which a man of my condition
should himself - "

"My lord, in the name of Heaven - "

"You are right, Parry; I am a coward, and if I do nothing for myself,
what will God do?  No, no; I have two arms, Parry, and I have a sword."
And he struck his arm violently with his hand, and took down his sword,
which hung against the wall.

"What are you going to do, my lord?"

"What am I going to do, Parry? What every one in my family does.  My
mother lives on public charity, my sister begs for my mother; I have,
somewhere or other, brothers who equally beg for themselves; and I, the
eldest, will go and do as all the rest do - I will go and ask charity!"

And with these words, which he finished sharply with a nervous and
terrible laugh, the young man girded on his sword, took his hat from the
trunk, fastened to his shoulder a black cloak, which he had worn all
during his journey, and pressing the two hands of the old man, who
watched his proceedings with a look of anxiety, -

"My good Parry," said he, "order a fire, drink, eat, sleep, and be
happy; let us both be happy, my faithful friend, my only friend.  We are
rich, as rich as kings!"

He struck the bag of pistoles with his clenched hand as he spoke, and it
fell heavily to the ground.  He resumed that dismal laugh that had so
alarmed Parry; and whilst the whole household was screaming, singing, and
preparing to install the travelers who had been preceded by their
lackeys, he glided out by the principal entrance into the street, where
the old man, who had gone to the window, lost sight of him in a moment.


Chapter VIII:
What his Majesty King Louis XIV. was at the Age of Twenty-Two.

It has been seen, by the account we have endeavored to give of it, that
the _entree_ of King Louis XIV. into the city of Blois had been noisy and
brilliant; his young majesty had therefore appeared perfectly satisfied
with it.

On arriving beneath the porch of the Castle of the States, the king met,
surrounded by his guards and gentlemen, with S. A. R. the duke, Gaston of
Orleans, whose physiognomy, naturally rather majestic, had borrowed on
this solemn occasion a fresh luster and a fresh dignity.  On her part,
Madame, dressed in her robes of ceremony, awaited, in the interior
balcony, the entrance of her nephew.  All the windows of the old castle,
so deserted and dismal on ordinary days, were resplendent with ladies and
lights.

It was then to the sound of drums, trumpets, and _vivats_, that the young
king crossed the threshold of that castle in which, seventy-two years
before, Henry III. had called in the aid of assassination and treachery
to keep upon his head and in his house a crown which was already slipping
from his brow, to fall into another family.

All eyes, after having admired the young king, so handsome and so
agreeable, sought for that other king of France, much otherwise king than
the former, and so old, so pale, so bent, that people called the Cardinal
Mazarin.

Louis was at this time endowed with all the natural gifts which make the
perfect gentleman; his eye was brilliant, mild, and of a clear azure
blue.  But the most skillful physiognomists, those divers into the soul,
on fixing their looks upon it, if it had been possible for a subject to
sustain the glance of the king, - the most skillful physiognomists, we
say, would never have been able to fathom the depths of that abyss of
mildness.  It was with the eyes of the king as with the immense depths of
the azure heavens, or with those more terrific, and almost as sublime,
which the Mediterranean reveals under the keels of its ships in a clear
summer day, a gigantic mirror in which heaven delights to reflect sometimes
its stars, sometimes its storms.

The king was short of stature - he was scarcely five feet two inches: but
his youth made up for this defect, set off likewise by great nobleness in
all his movements, and by considerable address in all bodily exercises.

Certes, he was already quite a king, and it was a great thing to be a
king in that period of traditional devotedness and respect; but as, up to
that time, he had been but seldom and always poorly shown to the people,
as they to whom he was shown saw him by the side of his mother, a tall
woman, and monsieur le cardinal, a man of commanding presence, many found
him so little of a king as to say, -

"Why, the king is not so tall as monsieur le cardinal!"

Whatever may be thought of these physical observations, which were
principally made in the capital, the young king was welcomed as a god by
the inhabitants of Blois, and almost like a king by his uncle and aunt,
Monsieur and Madame, the inhabitants of the castle.

It must, however, be allowed, that when he saw, in the hall of reception,
chairs of equal height for himself, his mother, the cardinal, and his
uncle and aunt, a disposition artfully concealed by the semi-circular
form of the assembly, Louis XIV. became red with anger, and looked around
him to ascertain by the countenances of those that were present, if this
humiliation had been prepared for him.  But as he saw nothing upon the
impassible visage of the cardinal, nothing on that of his mother, nothing
on those of the assembly, he resigned himself, and sat down, taking care
to be seated before anybody else.

The gentlemen and ladies were presented to their majesties and monsieur
le cardinal.

The king remarked that his mother and he scarcely knew the names of any
of the persons who were presented to them; whilst the cardinal, on the
contrary, never failed, with an admirable memory and presence of mind, to
talk to every one about his estates, his ancestors, or his children, some
of whom he named, which enchanted those worthy country gentlemen, and
confirmed them in the idea that he alone is truly king who knows his
subjects, from the same reason that the sun has no rival, because the sun
alone warms and lightens.

The study of the young king, which had begun a long time before, without
anybody suspecting it, was continued then, and he looked around him
attentively to endeavor to make out something in the physiognomies which
had at first appeared the most insignificant and trivial.

A collation was served.  The king, without daring to call upon the
hospitality of his uncle, had waited for it impatiently.  This time,
therefore, he had all the honors due, if not to his rank, at least to his
appetite.

As to the cardinal, he contented himself with touching with his withered
lips a _bouillon_, served in a golden cup.  The all-powerful minister,
who had taken her regency from the queen, and his royalty from the king,
had not been able to take a good stomach from nature.

Anne of Austria, already suffering from the cancer which six or eight
years after caused her death, ate very little more than the cardinal.

For Monsieur, already puffed up with the great event which had taken
place in his provincial life, he ate nothing whatever.

Madame alone, like a true Lorrainer, kept pace with his majesty; so that
Louis XIV., who, without this partner, might have eaten nearly alone, was
at first much pleased with his aunt, and afterwards with M. de Saint-
Remy, her _maitre d'hotel_, who had really distinguished himself.

The collation over, at a sign of approbation from M. de Mazarin, the king
arose, and, at the invitation of his aunt, walked about among the ranks
of the assembly.

The ladies then observed - there are certain things for which women are
as good observers at Blois as at Paris -  the ladies then observed that
Louis XIV. had a prompt and bold look, which premised a distinguished
appreciator of beauty.  The men, on their part, observed that the prince
was proud and haughty, that he loved to look down those who fixed their
eyes upon him too long or too earnestly, which gave presage of a master.

Louis XIV. had accomplished about a third of his review when his ears
were struck with a word which his eminence pronounced whilst conversing
with Monsieur.

This word was the name of a woman.

Scarcely had Louis XIV. heard this word than he heard, or rather
listening to nothing else; and neglecting the arc of the circle which
awaited his visit, his object seemed to be to come as quickly as possible
to the extremity of the curve.

Monsieur, like a good courtier, was inquiring of monsieur le cardinal
after the health of his nieces; he regretted, he said, not having the
pleasure of receiving them at the same time with their uncle; they must
certainly have grown in stature, beauty and grace, as they had promised
to do the last time Monsieur had seen them.

What had first struck the king was a certain constraint in the voices of
the two interlocutors.  The voice of Monsieur was calm and natural when
he spoke thus; while that of M. de Mazarin jumped by a note and a half to
reply above the diapason of his usual voice.  It might have been said
that he wished that voice to strike, at the end of the _salon_, any ear
that was too distant.

"Monseigneur," replied he, "Mesdemoiselles de Mazarin have still to
finish their education: they have duties to fulfill, and a position to
make.  An abode in a young and brilliant court would dissipate them a

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